House of Lords
Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench)
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they provide to local authorities about the provision of subsidies for school transport for young people attending faith schools; and what assessment they have made of the equality implications of local authorities withdrawing such subsidies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to provide support for school transport for young people, regardless of whether they attend faith schools, whose journey is greater than three miles.
Lord Hill of Oareford (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Education; Conservative)
For children of compulsory school age, local authorities are provided with Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance. Authorities must provide free transport for children to the nearest school that is further than the statutory walking distances of two miles for pupils below the age of eight and three miles for those aged eight and over. There is additional help for pupils aged 11 to 16, from low-income families, attending a school on the grounds of religion or belief between two and 15 miles from home. Transport to a school outside these arrangements is at the discretion of the local authority.
Equality legislation places a duty on authorities not to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief; however the provisions do not apply in relation to the provision of transport, although authorities need to be aware of their obligations under human rights legislation.
There are no plans to review the current home to school transport legislation.
The £180 million bursary fund for 16 to 19 year-olds introduced in September 2011 allows schools and colleges to target support to students' individual needs. Individual transport costs can be met by the fund, where the costs are a barrier to participation. Following appropriate consultation, local authorities are under a duty to publish a statement each year, setting out travel arrangements they consider necessary to enable young people to attend post-16 education.